#DailyDevotion Repentance Can Feel Like Death
Joh 21:15-19 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” (16) He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” (17) He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (18) Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (19) (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a simple thing. We are sinners in need of forgiveness. Jesus won forgiveness for us on the cross. We gain this forgiveness by hearing the good news that Jesus won this forgiveness for us by the cross and being repentant and baptized. But it never usually happens that simply or easy. Definitely it is not that easy.
Peter found this out in today’s lesson. To know what is going on in this section we need to remember Peter’s fall on Good Friday. Jesus had been arrested. Jesus had told Peter that before the cock crowed he would deny Jesus three times. Peter, in Peter fashion, boldly proclaims that he would never abandon Jesus or deny him. He would even die for him. Well we know what happens. Just like Jesus said, Peter denies Jesus, denies not only following Jesus but even knowing the man.
Now Jesus has called Peter to bring him back to repentance and to faith. While Jesus has certainly accepted Peter back, Peter in his heart still feels the guilt of his sin. He has not confessed it. He has not died to it. He probably isn’t sure Jesus has really forgiven him and accepted him back. So Jesus gets to work on Peter. He addresses Peter’s sin through asking three times, “Do you love me?” Now, the first two times Jesus uses the Greek word agape and Peter answers with phileo. In the New Testament, agape is used particularly but not exclusively to God’s loved toward us. Phileo is the Greek word for the love between friends. Jesus it seems deigns to go to Peter’s level in the third question and asked Peter if he phileod him. Peter is grieved when Jesus asked him the third time because he knows Jesus knows his heart. But Jesus is bringing Peter back to full force, to full stature. To do that, Jesus must bring Peter down to the point of death. There must be no doubt, no room for error, no love left for the world and his life. Jesus must become Peter’s everything, his very life and soul.
Jesus will do this to us in our lives as well. Sinning and coming to repentance is not always and easy and simple thing. To confess one’s sin against God is to die. Who wants to die? Dying is pleasant or easy. In repentance we will grieve over our sins even though forgiveness is right there for the taking. We will be brought to the point of hating our life and this world and declaring our love for Jesus. Jesus will bring us to the point where he is our everything and nothing else matters. Peter will indeed fulfill what he promised Jesus. He will suffer all even death for the name of Christ. The question for you today is, “Name, do you love me?” May your answer be yes.
Blessed Jesus you brought Peter to repentance and granted him faith to life everlasting. Grant us such repentance and faith in you and your work for our salvation that we may answer every day of our lives, Lord you know everything, you know that I love you. In your precious name we pray. Amen.